Accessible parking for people with disabilities is something that should always be available as a matter of law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public spaces to have a certain number of disabled parking spaces, depending on the size of the lot overall. But when you’re someplace where there’s a lot of demand for a handicap parking space, such as a hospital, what are the rules? Do you need a disabled parking permit if there’s urgency and you need quick access? Here’s what you need to know about handicap parking at hospitals and other medical facilities.
What the Law Says
One of the most important things you must learn if you utilize disabled parking spaces is what your rights are surrounding them. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that parking be provided to anyone with a disability. Businesses must have at least one out of every six spaces reserved for those who need accessible parking via a van, and about 2% of the total number of spaces needs to be disabled parking.
For hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and other medical facilities, more handicap parking is required than those in other public or commercial lots. 10% of the parking spaces in hospitals must be accessible. At physical therapy facilities and rehabilitation facilities, 20% must be accessible. Van accessible spots still need to be one for every six spots.
If you’re dealing with a parking lot or parking garage that was built before 2010, these regulations might not apply. There was a safe harbor clause passed that allows parking facilities that existed before 2010 to operate under the 1992 Americans with Disabilities Act specifications. Often these facilities, especially in hospitals and other health care facilities, have made alterations in order to serve people better. It’s simply that they may not be required by law to do so.
Do You Need a Disabled Parking Permit?
If you have a disabled parking permit and you need to park in handicap accessible space, then it must be displayed properly to ensure that you don’t get a ticket or have your vehicle towed. Always make sure you have it displayed in any vehicle you’re driving or riding in.
What If There Are No Spaces?
At a facility where more people may need accessible parking than you find in an average parking lot, such as a hospital, what do you do if the handicap parking spaces are all taken? It’s crucial to know your options!
If it’s an emergency and you’ve had a someone drive you to the hospital, then your driver can drop you off at a designated loading/unloading area. They should be able to safely unload you from the vehicle here and then go find a regular parking spot elsewhere.
If you’ve driven yourself and there are no disabled parking spaces available, check if the hospital has a valet service. If so, they may offer the service to people with disabilities at no cost. However, this is something you may want to check out at your local hospital or health care facility in anticipation that you may ever need it. Each facility handles these cases differently.
Remember that your handicap parking permit does allow you to park in timed lots with no restrictions or in metered spots without having to pay. That could be another option if no accessible parking spots are available when you arrive.
Where You Cannot Park
While it is true that there are some perks afforded to those with a disabled parking permit, such as the ability to park in timed parking for longer than normal, there are definitely some places that handicap parking permits do not provide legal access to.
One of those places is in the loading or unloading areas of a handicap parking space. These areas are required in order for people whose mobility devices require more room as they’re exiting their vehicle. Blocking this space will block them from their vehicle, so it’s a no-no. The areas of these spaces are designated by a blue striping, so make sure never to try to squeeze in there if you find that all the other accessible parking spaces are taken.
You also cannot park anywhere that parking is not allowed by local/state ordinance or law. This includes places that prohibit parking or stopping of vehicles, red zones, or in a place that is reserved for special types of vehicles, such as emergency vehicles.
When you’re looking for accessible parking at a hospital or other medical facility, it can get tricky. But you expand your options by understanding the rules surrounding the use of your disabled parking permit. If you know what is available to you, then it won’t stop you from getting where you need to go!